Button’s story is one that we know all too well: He was stolen from his mother and killed as a ‘waste product’ of the dairy industry. Except Button was born on an organic dairy and the tragic separation from his mother is one that has never been filmed before on an organic farm in the UK.
Consumers are led to believe that ‘organic’ equates to a better life for animals. Exploitation, however, can never be ‘humane’ or ‘higher welfare’. Button’s short, distressing life reflects the innate cruelty within the dairy industry. It emphasises the need for everyone to ditch dairy and choose vegan.
We met Button during our seven-month undercover investigation at Bath Soft Cheese, a multi award-winning organic dairy located in the Southwest of England.
Soon after he was born, his mother groomed and cleaned him, helping seal their strong emotional bond from the very beginning. This should have been the start of their wonderful life together, but Button had no idea of what was to come.
Maybe Button’s mother knew exactly what their future would look like. Dairy cows are impregnated every year, giving birth after nine months and soon having their calf stolen away. This is a sorrowful pattern that Button’s mother likely knew all too well. The psychological torment that mothers face year-in, year-out on dairy farms is unfathomable, but our Milking It investigation shows a glimpse into this torturous world.
As Button played and skipped around, excited to have entered the world, his mother stood by his side, protecting him. He knew nothing but love from his mother. At just three days old, Button was stolen away; robbed of his mother’s affection and love.
After his mother was milked just three days after birthing Button, she was not returned into the birthing pen as she had been the previous two days. Instead, she was placed back into the milking herd. She anxiously cried as there were now metal bars between her and her baby. Realising her inevitable fate, she walked away. But Button followed. He ran up the birthing pen to the very end where his mother was, but again, metal bars separated them.
Moments later, Button had a rope put around his neck and was dragged by his tail out of the pen. He was taken to a neighbouring shed, where he could still hear his mother’s cries. Despite the physical separation, mother and baby could hear each other wailing for hours and hours. Button cried for over 39 hours and his mother was filmed later that night searching and crying.
Despite a veterinarian stating that calves “get no mental health or separation anxieties” at Bath Soft Cheese’s public open day, our undercover footage shows the harsh reality for cows and calves torn apart, and the distress that they face in organic dairy farming.
Button was later sent off the farm to a notorious calf dealer, where he was taken with other Bath Soft Cheese calves to Drury & Sons slaughterhouse in Swindon. They would be turned into cheap meat for kebabs and pet food. Barely a chance at life, he was killed as a ‘waste product’. An entire life destroyed simply because Bath Soft Cheese chooses to exploit cows for their milk.
This is the heart-breaking side of organic dairy farming that, with your help, we will continue to expose and show to the public.
We are building a future where calves like Button are shown the respect and kindness that they deserve. Please continue to follow our campaign updates and support us by donating today. Your ongoing generosity is keeping our investigators in the field and helping us tell the stories of innocent animals like Button.
For the animals.